Here's what the Iverson Movie Ranch obsession is all about ...

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Sunday, April 3, 2016

Range Rider Rock, Fireplace Rock and the Ottoman — three rocks that have caused more than their share of trouble

Three neighboring rocks with remarkably similar silhouettes

These screen shots show three different rocks that were situated near each other on the Iverson Movie Ranch. Similarities in their shapes have posed a number of research challenges.

As marked here in blue, all three rocks have a gentle "S"-curve along the left edge, then tuck in toward the bottom to form a curved overhanging ledge. The darker appearance of the rock on the right is due to variation in lighting.

"Man From Sonora" (Johnny Mack Brown, 1951)

Remarkably, all three rocks are positioned in the same direction, with their matching edges found at the northwest corner of each rock. Two of these edges can be seen in this screen shot from the B-Western "Man From Sonora."

The names I've adopted in my research for these two rocks are Fireplace Rock and the Ottoman. Fireplace Rock is still in place today, but the "fireplace" near the bottom of the rock feature is almost impossible to see.

Here's a better look at Fireplace Rock in "Man From Sonora" in which the recessed "fireplace" area can be clearly seen toward the right of the frame, behind the horse and rider. Today the fireplace is concealed behind a home in the Indian Hills Mobile Home Village.

In the original composite shot, Fireplace Rock appears on the left, the Ottoman is in the center and the panel on the right contains Range Rider Rock.

"Atom Man vs. Superman" (Columbia serial, 1950)

The shot of Range Rider Rock comes from "Atom Man vs. Superman." The image of the corner of the rock looming along the right edge of the frame is typical of how all three rocks at times appeared in the movies.

"When the Daltons Rode" (Universal, 1940)

Another interesting use of that "S"-curve edge of Range Rider Rock can be found in the Randolph Scott Western "When the Daltons Rode," where a bushwhacker atop the rock awaits his prey.

"Man From Sonora" — Range Rider Rock

Range Rider Rock had a number of other profiles that were also often seen in productions. This shot from "Man From Sonora" shows the full length of the rock, and is probably its most common angle.

This photo highlights the corner of Range Rider Rock seen in the shots higher up in this post. "Man From Sonora" is one of the best showcases for all three of the rocks featured in this post. I published a detailed post about "Man From Sonora" last year, and you can see that post by clicking here.

"Shut My Big Mouth" — Joe E. Brown (1942)

Range Rider Rock is featured in colorized form in this lobby card for the Joe E. Brown movie "Shut My Big Mouth."

"The Roy Rogers Show": "The Scavenger" (Nov. 27, 1955) — "Brainiac"

Viewed from this angle, the north end of Range Rider Rock presents a profile I've always found amusing, which I call "Brainiac." I broke down the elements of Brainiac in a post back in 2010 that you can see by clicking here.

Range Rider Rock/Brainiac in modern times

Range Rider Rock survives today as part of the mobile home park, but the rock is hard to access and I have been unable to replicate the "Brainiac" angle. The above shot is about as close as I could get, but it clearly has none of the original Brainiac charisma.

Range Rider Rock's contemporary setting

Another partial view of Range Rider Rock can be seen by looking over the roof of a mobile home. This angle, with the camera pointed southeast, doesn't quite match any productions I've seen.

"The Lone Rider in Ghost Town" (PRC, 1941)

Range Rider Rock was frequently filmed from the north, as in this example from the George Houston B-Western "The Lone Rider in Ghost Town." Range Rider Rock appears on the left, with a portion of the Lash LaRue's Arch formation visible in the background, above the riders.

Identifiers on the rock, including the three bumps noted here, help match up the rock with its screen appearances.

Here's a better look at the three bumps as they appear today.

"Gold Raiders" (1951)

It can be a challenge to find these bumps in productions, but they're visible in this shot from the Three Stooges movie "Gold Raiders."

"The Virginian": "The Mountain of the Sun" (April 17, 1963)

The bumps can be found again in this unusual shot from the TV show "The Virginian." Unfortunately, that side of the rock is in shadow, once again making the bumps a little hard to see.

"The Fighting Seabees" (1944)

An interesting shot of Range Rider Rock appears in the John Wayne war movie "The Fighting Seabees," with the rock filling much of the bottom left corner of the frame. The rocks near the top of the frame are still in place as well, and today decorate the area around the swimming pool in the Indian Hills Mobile Home Village.

I'm unable to make out the three bumps in this shot due to the shading on the rock, but if we could see them, they would be approximately in the area designated here in green.

Notice this curved indentation in Range Rider Rock.

The same indentation can be seen in the shot from "The Virginian," although the shading again hampers visibility. You may want to click on the photo to see it in a larger format.

The indentation is also clearly visible in recent shots of Range Rider Rock's north end.

"The Rawhide Trail" (1958)

The relationship between Range Rider Rock and Fireplace Rock can be seen in this shot from the Allied Artists B-Western "The Rawhide Trail," which starred Rex Reason.

The two rock features are identified here. The Ottoman, which was located between Range Rider Rock and Fireplace Rock, is hidden behind Range Rider Rock in this shot and cannot be seen.

The "S"-shaped curves at the northwest corners of both Fireplace Rock and Range Rider Rock are noted here.

Two distinctive rocks, Bugeye and Trapezoid, are situated at the top of Fireplace Rock, as noted in this version of the "Rawhide Trail" screen shot. I've also noted the "Fireplace" area at the base of Fireplace Rock.

"Lawless Cowboys" (Monogram, 1951)

In the Whip Wilson movie "Lawless Cowboys," we get a better look at Bugeye and Trapezoid atop Fireplace Rock. The shot is taken from Sheep Flats looking southeast.

Also appearing in the "Lawless Cowboys" shot is the Ottoman.

In modern times Bugeye and Trapezoid loom above the streets of the Indian Hills Mobile Home Village. They're still positioned atop Fireplace Rock, but the "fireplace" area is now hidden from view.

"Overland Trail" TV series: "Westbound Stage" (March 6, 1960)

The Ottoman can be seen in the top left corner of this shot from the TV show "Overland Trail." The one-hour Western series, which starred Doug McClure and William Bendix, lasted just one season on NBC.

Seventeen episodes of "Overland Trail" were produced, with most of the location work done on the Iverson Ranch.

The Ottoman's "S"-curve is seen again here, albeit from a different angle than in previous shots.

Example of an actual ottoman

It may go without saying, but to illustrate why I've been calling the rock the Ottoman, here's a picture of an actual Ottoman. While the name is related mainly to the ottoman-like shape of the rock, I also like the suggestion of a cushy rock that one could put one's feet up on.

"Man From Sonora"

The rock feature the Ottoman is on the obscure side, as famous Iverson Movie Ranch rocks go. "Man From Sonora" includes one of the better looks at the rock, but even here it tends to blend in.

"The Virginian" — "Mountain of the Sun"

This is probably the most striking appearance by the Ottoman, from the same "Virginian" sequence noted above. The sequence marks one of the few times the east side of the rock was filmed.

The "Virginian" shot also features a view of other rock features in the neighborhood, including another glimpse of two of the main rocks in the swimming pool area, known as the Cave Rocks.

The fake cave entrance that gives the Cave Rocks their name can be seen in the photo, along with a strategically placed fake bush hiding the opening to the cave.

Indian Hills Mobile Home Village — swimming pool area

Some of the same rocks can be seen in this recent shot of the swimming pool area. The original location of the fake cave would have been near the left of the frame, in the dark area above the white table.

"Atom Man vs. Superman" — the Ottoman

 The Ottoman can be seen at the far left of the frame in this screen shot from "Atom Man vs. Superman."

"Motorcycle Gang" (American International, 1957)

On a rare occasion when horses and old gangster sedans gave way to motorcycles on the Iverson Ranch, the Ottoman lurked in the background during filming of the oddity "Motorcycle Gang."

The fate of the Ottoman is not clear. It's likely that the rock was buried during development of the mobile home park, but the area is inaccessible today and the rock's status remains a question mark.

Indian Hills Mobile Home Village (Bing bird's-eye view)

A recent overview of the Indian Hills Mobile Home Village, at Topanga and the 118 in Chatsworth, Calif., notes the location of two of the main rock features highlighted in this post — Fireplace Rock and Range Rider Rock.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for another great post. The historical research and photo labeling are excellent. The detailed description of the current view and the bird's eye view are very helpful.

Rp said...

Wow the rocks are still there after all the years and the mobile home park realy hid some of the rocks. the birds eye view of the rocks above are great photos. to bad the park is there to hide the rocks.

Scotty Rawson said...

Thanks for all your reseach,,,, great work and great fun to see

Mark Sherman said...

You've done it again!!! The work you put into these is obvious. I look forward to every post! Thanks again.

Brian Harrington said...

Thank you once again for your hard work and efforts, another amazing historical account of our movies yester-years, well done..!